Nothing quite prepares you for cancer. Despite it being such a prevalent and public disease, a lingering threat that constantly waves at us from posters, TV, radio and casual conversation, there is always that slightly arrogant conviction that it won’t affect you. It is a tragedy that affects other people, other families. You are aware of its presence, perhaps occasionally have to offer condolences, be that shoulder or open ear, but there is always a glass barrier keeping the disease removed from your life.
Until one day glass shatters. You go from being blissfully distant to suddenly trapped amongst a mess of broken shards, overwhelmed and perplexed as to how to stick your barrier back together. Your brain struggles to process the different consequences, the ‘ifs’ and ‘whens’ and ‘hows’ and ‘whys’. What was once a lingering threat has now become a threatening reality.
In October 2015 my mum (or, as she is known to me, Marge) was diagnosed with breast cancer, an isolated but fairly rare case of invasive lobular carcinoma (only 15% of breast cancer sufferers have this diagnosis). Even leading up to her diagnosis I remained arrogantly confident that my family could not be touched by this disease. I still saw myself as ‘removed’ – her lump could surely be explained by other things. But my barrier did brake. Cancer crashed into my life, forcing me to confront a formidable and, frankly, terrifying reality.
My initial reaction was physical and dramatic. Despite having always considered myself as an emotionally strong person, I crumbled when I heard the news. Tears overstayed their welcome whilst sleep remained absent. I avoided talking to people about it as best I could, preferring to internalise my anguish and fears. Yet as Marge’s chemo crept closer and closer, I began to realise that this was not a productive reaction, for mum, my family or myself. Yes, life had given us a bad hand but the game was not over and it was definitely not lost. All that was needed was a strategy.
That is the inspiration for this blog. Food, and specifically healthy food, has always been incredibly important to me. I am a firm believer in the age-old saying ‘you are what you eat’ – what we put in our mouths has a significant effect on our physical health, our energy and our emotions. I love to experiment with new ingredients and flavours in order to fill my body with delicious, colourful and wholesome food. Meals that satisfy the senses satisfy the soul.
So I decided to make this passion my strategy. My mum was the person who taught me the importance of healthy eating and now more than ever she will need someone to give her the same encouragement, to take the time and care to cook her flavoursome meals that support her recovery.
But I also want the effects of this ‘project’ to go beyond that of just the nutritional value. I hope that, by doing this blog, I will help Marge’s mind-set to remain as positive as it has been up until now, even when she is at her worst. I want her to take comfort in the fact that she is putting natural and nutritious ingredients into her body, that she is eating for strength and recovery. But, with luck, it will also help my mind-set to remain positive, to know that I am doing something to contribute in any small way.
Natural ingredients have the power to enhance our strengths, to brighten our moods, and, quite simply, to cure. Food is a remedy and eating a diet full of nutritious foods can boost your immunity, strength and health. By ensuring my mum is eating healing ingredients I will not only (hopefully) help her to recover from this horrible illness but also encourage my own healing process as well.
P.S. Marge, you’re a superwoman! x